If 2012 was the year electronic music went mainstream, 2013 will be the year songwriting infused with the spirit of ‘EDM’ grabs hold of the globe. Few other artists working today are better positioned to ride the wave of European inspired dance anthems lighting up radio charts and iTunes worldwide than Estonian born and raised, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/producer KERLI with her new EP, Utopia.
Well before electronic dance music features graced the pages of mainstream magazines in 2012, the 25-year old fashion forward singer was riding a wave of popularity in the U.S. with her #1 Billboard Dance Club Songs chart smash, “Army Of Love” in late 2010 and early 2011. The visually rich video for the track, shot in her native country, has racked up over 3.5 million views so far on YouTube and laid the blueprint for a synth-soaked sound that has concurrently swept America recently (and has brought KERLI a new fervent fan base grafted on top of her existent fans).
The song proved a fitting bridge for a truly visionary presence on the trendsetting side of pop between KERLI’s 2008 debut album for Island Def Jam, Love Is Dead (which spawned the hit “Walking On Air”) and her new set for the label, released March 19.
The much anticipated Island Records offering showcases KERLI’s gift for sincere songwriting, which fans of Demi Lovato know well (the artist, born Kerli Kõiv, co-wrote Lovato’s platinum-selling “Skyscraper,” which won an MTV VMA in September of 2012 for ‘Best Video With A Message’).
“The only goal I have in life is to make other people happy so I really wanted to make an album that captured ‘love energy,’” the songwriter and performing artist says of her forthcoming full-length. “Since my last record I’ve gone through such a huge transition spiritually,” noting she “got out” a lot of the “depressing” lyrical themes off her chest via her debut American release.
Yet it’s just that complexity and vacillation between spiritual and lighter lyrical themes that piqued the interest of Warner/Chappell, who signed the lyricist/songwriter to a multi-year publishing deal in the fall of 2012. Her ability as a writer with a gift for crafting haunting, melodic pop hooks that resonate with music fans has not gone unnoticed in the dance world, either. Expect a number of new features coming soon on notable DJ/producer tracks, on top of “Glow In the Dark,” a recent release with Australian Beatport favorite, tyDi.
Her own tracks on KERLI’s forthcoming EP crackle with an electric, emotional confidence rarely seen in the dance/pop world…from the record’s up-tempo yet heartfelt lead single, “The Lucky Ones,” (the #1 Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart-topper which boasts a remix package featuring Morgan Page and tyDi amongst others) to the anthemic, hook-laden “Can’t Control The Kids,” KERLI takes listeners on a powerful, rolling, percussive journey to the nexus of where dance and pop intersect throughout the set.
“I just want to bring joy and positivity into the world,” the blonde beauty who became even more familiar to the dance music audience at the IDentity Festival, where she shared the stage alongside names such as Hardwell, Porter Robinson, Arty and Eric Prydz last summer.
“I love playing out live,” she said of her time on the roaming EDM tour. “I gained a lot of new fans and the crowds gave me back so much energy….to me, performing and listening to dance music is a spiritual experience.”
And a more eloquent metaphorical letter will be hard to find for fans of dance music and pop, for her new material hits the sweet spot where the two genres interconnect with a graceful touch seldom seen in either genre.
Much of the forthcoming EP draws inspiration from both pop and dance genres, and was recorded with up and coming Swedish production duo SeventyEight, whom KERLI swoons are her “songwriting soul mates.”
“We just clicked,” she said of the recording sessions, which took places throughout 2012 both in Los Angeles (Westlake Studios) and in Stockholm. “They’re perfectionists and I’ve never felt more comfortable [writing],” the onetime Stockholm resident said, adding that collectively they conjured “magic” for the new release.
“When we were in the studio together the energy was full of electricity….we were hugging and jumping around and always had our friends partying and bringing energy to the studio.”
Songs such as the chill-inducing, piano-driven offerings “Love Me Or Leave Me” and “Chemical,” to the Switch-produced break-beat track “Sugar” (the entire album was overseen by former Katy Perry A&R man Chris Anokute at Island Def Jam), offer proof of KERLI’s comment on the new material, which is sure to thrill her loyal fan base--now nearing the 300,000 “likes” threshold on Facebook, in addition to the blog she posts on weekly for Buzznet.com, which nets over 1 million views a month.
Her actively engaged fan base is legion online for the 14 to 25 set, and now spans the globe from Brazil to Japan (she refers to her community as “Moonchildren”). A few older high profile boosters include longtime supporter Tim Burton, who included her music in his Alice In Wonderland and Frankenweenie films, and Perez Hilton, who chose KERLI’s 2012 underground anthem “Zero Gravity” to kick off his Perez Hilton Pop Up Compilation #1 CD.
Her “Moonchildren” hang on KERLI’s every word, and anxiously await the artist’s forthcoming fashion line (KERLI calls her unique style “Bubble Goth” and she is known as a trendsetting icon who often hand-makes her own outfits that can be seen in her music videos, which are often fantastical and always original).
With Utopia, expect a wider range of fans to enter a world clued-in KERLI fanatics have been raving about for years; thanks to a cosmic confluence of dance and pop trends dovetailing straight into a diverse, stellar group of songs set to take music fans deep into an idyllic pop/dance paradise. Filled with light and love and infectious buzzing energy currently informing the electronic music scene, KERLI’s forthcoming EP is closer than ever for forward thinking pop fans.